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Ashby v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

August 30, 2017

JAYLEN ASHBY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Anthony P. Patti, Magistrate Judge.

         ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jaylen Ashby received supplemental security income benefits as a child because he suffered from a seizure-related disorder. After his eighteenth birthday, Ashby was examined and the Social Security Administration found that he no longer qualified for supplemental security income. Ashby requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), who determined that Ashby was not entitled to disability benefits. Ashby sought review by the Appeals Counsel, which declined to review the ALJ's decision. On May 23, 2016, Ashby filed a complaint seeking judicial review of the benefits denial. ECF No. 1. The case was referred to Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti pursuant to Local Rule 72.1(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). ECF No. 3.

         The parties subsequently filed dueling motions for summary judgment. ECF No. 16, 17. On July 31, 2017, Judge Patti filed a report recommending that the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment be granted, Ashby's motion for summary judgment be denied, and that the Commission's decision be affirmed. ECF No. 20. Ashby timely objected. ECF No. 21. For the following reasons, those objections will be overruled, Judge Patti's report and recommendation will be adopted, and the Commissioner's denial of benefits will be affirmed.

         I.

         Neither party has specifically objected to Judge Patti's summary of the background and administrative proceedings of the case. For that reason, the summary is adopted in full. For purposes of this order, it is sufficient to note that the ALJ found that Ashby suffered from the following severe impairments: scoliosis, asthma, Tourette's syndrome, attention deficient disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Rec. at 16, ECF No. 8. Ultimately, the ALJ concluded that Ashby “had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work” with some additional limitations. Id. at 18. Because Ashby can perform a significant number of jobs even with those limitations, the ALJ denied his request for benefits.

         II.

         When reviewing a case under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court must affirm the Commissioner's conclusions “absent a determination that the Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the record.” Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted). Substantial evidence is “such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Id. (citation omitted).

         Under the Social Security Act (“The Act”), a claimant is entitled to disability benefits if he can demonstrate that he is in fact disabled. Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). Disability is defined by the Act as an “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505, 416.05. A plaintiff carries the burden of establishing that he meets this definition. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(5)(A); see also Dragon v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 470 F. App'x 454, 459 (6th Cir. 2012).

         Corresponding federal regulations outline a five-step sequential process to determine whether an individual qualifies as disabled:

First, the claimant must demonstrate that he has not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period of disability. Second, the claimant must show that he suffers from a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment. Third, if the claimant shows that his impairment meets or medically equals one of the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1, he is deemed disabled. Fourth, the ALJ determines whether, based on the claimant's residual functional capacity, the claimant can perform his past relevant work, in which case the claimant is not disabled. Fifth, the ALJ determines whether, based on the claimant's residual functional capacity, as well as his age, education, and work experience, the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, in which case the claimant is not disabled.

Courter v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 479 F. App'x 713, 719 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 548 (6th Cir. 2004)).[1] Through Step Four, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving the existence and severity of limitations caused by his impairments and the fact that he is precluded from performing her past relevant work. At Step Five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to identify a significant number of jobs in the economy that accommodate the claimant's residual ...


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